99 years ago TODAY, the State Theatre (then known as “The Lyric”) opened its doors for the very first time!

Today we are kicking off our STATE THEATRE CENTENNIAL YEAR festivities, celebrating 100 years of moviegoing magic at this little spot on Front Street, in Traverse City, Michigan.

And if that doesn’t just take the cake, today (Saturday) everyone who buys a ticket to see the current first-run feature at the State — the sensational “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” — will be treated to a slice of State Theatre birthday cake!

Plus, starting today, and for the next 364 days, the 100th person each day to purchase a ticket and walk through our doors will win a free couples combo (2 medium drinks and a large popcorn) along with some cool Traverse City Film Festival swag. And each of these 365 lucky people will be entered into a year-end drawing to win a movie lover’s travel adventure of a lifetime (details to be announced at festival — hint: it has something to do with the birthplace of “the movies!”).

This is just the beginning of a grand and glorious year-long celebration of this great movie theater, with special events planned throughout the year, the first of which will take place at this summer’s film festival. On Wednesday, July 29, don’t miss a once-in-a-lifetime event as we step back in time to the halcyon days of cinema to recreate the experience of going to the movies at 233 E. Front Street 100 years ago.

Three-time Golden Globe nominee Geraldine Chaplin (“Doctor Zhivago,” “Nashville”) will join us, in person, to re-christen the State’s cornerstone, present a special screening of her father Charlie Chaplin’s classic “The Tramp” (celebrating its own 100th anniversary in 2015), and discuss his enduring impact on American cinema.

We’ll have a movie organist, vaudeville acts, ushers in period dress, and other surprises. And most novel of all, we’ll actually be projecting 35mm film! You’ll be transported back to a time when the only things glowing in theaters were people’s eyes, wide open with joy and excitement.

It must have been quite the moment on July 4, 1916, 99 years ago today, when this theater with its 900+ seats opened to an awe-struck crowd of northern Michiganders. They packed the theater that day so they could sit in the dark and experience the wonder of story. Now, all these years later, we still yearn for the same thing: to be transported somewhere, fueled by our laughter and tears and the urge to connect. This theater is our local treasure — and now it’s become a national treasure. People from all over the world come here to show their movies and to go to the movies… to experience what it truly must have been like to go to the cinema all those years ago.

I personally thank all of you for the honor of letting me share this place with you, for letting me create a cinematic palace for you and yours to come to every day of the year to see a moving picture.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this Centennial Year. That we get to do this AND be visited by the family of Charlie Chaplin at the State Theatre… well, does it get any better than that?

Happy Birthday, America!
Happy Birthday, State Theatre!

All my best,
Michael Moore